Goodwood Revival – Motorsport at it’s roots

Goodwood Revival paddock

Image: Oast House Archive – CC BY-SA 2.0

Goodwood Revival weekend sets an example for motor racing around the world. The Revival puts on a show that leaves almost every other form of racing in the shadows. Three days of back to back racing with classic single-seaters, touring cars and endurance legends.

If you ever needed evidence as to why Goodwood Revival is such a beloved event on every car enthusiast’s calendar, the Chichester Cup race which took place on sunny Saturday morning will give you everything you need.

It’s a chance to enjoy racing at its purest. No drama, no politics, and no complaining about a lack of blue flags.

A true Revival

Walking through the gates to circuit sends you back to a time when motor racing was simple.

You cannot compare the performance of contemporary and classic race cars. Technology and science have evolved relentlessly to develop downforce and grip and crazy speed. Modern race cars, whether they’re Formula 1, LMP1 or even BTCC, are engineered to the extreme and ridiculously technical.

Ferrari GTO at Goodwood

Is there anything quite so dreamy?                                                   Image: PSParrot – CC BY 2.0

There is also no comparison of the show that these different eras present. Whether it’s the one litre Formula Junior cars in the Chichester Cup or the baby sports cars in the Madgwick Cup, the on track action around the Goodwood Motor Circuit is always thrilling.

Goodwood is unique in so many ways

Goodwood Revival is more than just racing. Every car that hits the track is a work of art whether it’s a brutish AC Cobra or an elegant E-Type. With no outboard wings, these cars rely on exquisite body shaping to develop downforce. Even before they start moving, the machines on show at the Revival give you chills.

Two AC Cobra replicas

You’re never far from racing royalty at the Revival meeting.

The circuit itself is unique. Goodwood remains exactly as it was when it last hosted Formula 1 cars in the 1965 Glover Trophy. The high-speed sweeps of Madgwick and Woodcote have survived along with the treacherous compression at St Mary’s. There are very few circuits left in the world left so wonderfully unspoiled.

Historic racing at Goodwood is always wheel to wheel. The sweeping nature of the circuit makes it possible for drivers to run side by side for laps at a time. Combine that with low downforce cars that are never pointing in a straight line and the exhilaration multiplies. It really is a treat.

A better show than any motor sport currently on TV

Something that struck me more this year than it has in the past was the length of the races. With most of the weekend packed with short, sharp 20 minute bursts of adrenaline, there is little breathing room.

Cobras and E-Types at the Revival

A common sight at Goodwood                                          Image: Oast House Archive – CC BY-SA 2.0

Above everything else, I think this is what makes Goodwood so crazily exciting. The 30-car grids have 20 minutes to do as much racing as they can. The effect is quite remarkable. From the moment the Union flag drops until the Chequered flag waves, every corner offers new drama.

That is a stark comparison to the Italian Grand Prix a week ago. It was exciting, but only in places. Over the course of the 90 minute race, the exciting action probably accounted for 20 per cent of that time. Formula 1 races slowly build up tension that sucks in obsessive enthusiasts like me. Unfortunately that tension very rarely develops into anything overly exciting. There are more exciting moments in a day at Goodwood than an entire World Championship season.

Every race fan has to experience the Goodwood Revival

Whether it’s the Revival, or the Members’ Meeting, a weekend at Goodwood Motor Circuit is an unmissable experience. It’s a chance to witness all of the best cars that have ever raced sharing a track together. Even when the field is a total miss match – in some cases a field of cars will lap 30 seconds apart, it only adds to the drama as the leading pack fight to make their way through slower traffic. The whole event just works. Nothing gets in the way of the show.

A classic race car

Not a single grumpy mechanic to push me away.

There is no question that a Goodwood weekend offers more entertainment than a contemporary Formula 1 weekend, and at a fraction of the price. Sure, there are no World Championship points on offer, but if anything, that gives the drivers an incentive to race harder. There is nothing really to lose.

Add to that the sound of 30 V8 monsters dropping the clutch at the same time, and you have the ultimate racing experience. As a spectator, there are very few places in the world you can go to hear a sound like that. Basically, anyone without a ticket to the Goodwood Revival is missing out.

What do you prefer?

Perhaps Formula 1 can learn from what the Revival offers. Cars that can race closely, and even overtake each other; a racetrack that provides overtaking opportunities without a single hairpin or DRS zone. Modern racing was shaped by the danger of 60s racing, but all of the good things from that era are lost.

I would love to turn the TV on and see racing drivers racing each other hard at every corner for laps at a time, occupied for the full 90 minutes by cars that are constantly wanting to slide from under them. Watching the drivers at the Revival constantly adjusting the steering wheel is epic. Ultimate car control and enviable skill. All of that can still be achieved without making it dangerous.

The trouble is, technology has taken over and now all that’s left is a bunch of robots obsessed with perfection instead of delivering the best show on Earth.

Simon Ostler

I am currently training to become a Journalist. I write best when my subject is something I enjoy. I have spent time working with CAR Magazine and Parkers.

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